Susan Borsin, a lawyer by training who left the law practice when her kids were little. She had the opportunity to leave the legal profession and be the mom at home who volunteered and drove them places. As they got older, the delight part of it diminished and she needed more information on the regular challenges of raising teenagers. There were 500-page books on teens doing drugs, but none on helping parents face regular everyday challenges we see when teenagers begin to push back and be themselves, but we try to keep them as who they were. She started talking to other moms asking if they wished there was much more information out there and they quickly realized it was a crisis moment for parents, moms in particular. Thus, in 2007 they started Your Teen Media, it’s changed over the years in platforms and delivery but it’s intent never changed. YTM has always been about helping teens and parents feel better about parenting, how to do a better job parenting and build a better relationship with their kids in a nonjudgmental setting.
How has your life changed after YTM? Do you feel working on YTM and meeting new people in the field has helped you as a parent personally?
I can’t imagine life without having the access to these resources. There may be no do-overs in life, but my oldest mention I’m a very different parent to my younger kids than I was to them because of all of the unbelievable advice. Sometimes it may be uncomfortable to try but I figure I’m asking for advice; I might as well give it a shot and it would really have an impact on my emotional relationship with my kids.
Tell us about Your Teen Mag, what kind of information and resources can parents find on there?
We try to be platform masters and put info wherever you may be as a parent. You can find out podcast everywhere podcasts are available. We have a YouTube Channel and we’re very active on Facebook. Everyday Monday-Friday we do a 10:30 Your Teen TV interview that goes on Facebook YouTube and LinkedIn and we just are really creating information in a multitude of ways so parents looking for it can find and ingest it however they want. Lots of media, lots of written articles and memes that give you a chuckle or warm your heart. We also have another side of our business that give you an opportunity to get online courses. We just had an eight-week course on the process of getting into college and that’s called destination college. We have mini courses on sleep, vaping, technology, gaming, disorganized students, defiant teenagers, safe driving, sibling relationships, middle school issues our contact is addressing things parents and teens deal with on a regular basis. We have a Facebook group where parents can ask each other questions. While a particular question may not be hitting you today, you may know someone who it may hit or you’ve dealt with it before or you’re worried about it. We really need each other’s help; we need the village. Our Facebook Group is called Your Teen; working hard to raise teens.
Parenting courses are not too expensive but worth your time and will change your life. It’s interviews with experts on various topics and giving insight on a more in-depth way and tools you can use for things that are challenging in your life. Having conversations with your kids, what things you can try. For example, gaming, how you can go about having a conversation with them about them spending too much time on them. It’s about how to have conversations with them because nothing happens in a vacuum. It must be a conversation with your teenager, acknowledging something is a problem and how do you as a family, you as a parent come to a place where everyone is satisfied with the solutions. We’ve all been children of parents who’ve said, “Because I said so” and it never feels good. It doesn’t work.
I understand you also record and stream your own Podcast as well, what kind of topics do you dive into on it?
We’re consistent on our platforms. For the first part of it, my business partner, Stephanie Silverman, and I banter about the topic. We have a “what was it like for us” and interview several authors. They are often based on conversations we see go on in our Facebook group. Recently we saw conversations about kids who were underperforming. As parents we think our children are lazy and we think we have to take away any distractions. Adam Price wrote a whole book about how being lazy is not something we’re born with. Something else is happening, it could be a fear of failure, it could be a sense that no matter what you do, it’s not enough. There are loads of reasons, depression, all sorts of things. We’ll be talking to the author about what parents can do to help their kids get out of what they’re in currently.
In one of your recent podcasts, you mentioned watching a bird’s nest and the baby birds growing up and flying away. Then talked about how for many people, their empty birds nest became full again because of COVID, many people birds’ nests may still be full. What advice can you offer to people whose birds nest filled up again in regard to the stress on their marriage and any other stress it may come with?
I really worked hard on it, it didn’t go well in my family for quite a while. Four out of five of my kids came back home for a few months and we had to learn a new dance together. It was hard, really, hard doesn’t capture it. One of my kids came home and to me it was like having my kids come home and filling the nest up again. I didn’t realize my kids are adults now, so coming home couldn’t look the way it did when they were living at home. One of my kids asked if they could have a shelf for their food in the refrigerator. My thought was, “are you kidding me?” I felt so put out for a while until I realized that kid was right. When you’re used to living alone and you make your own food and you want to eat the leftovers the next day, you don’t want another person eating it. Because this wasn’t long term, we didn’t have to make rules around being different from who they are, we tried to accommodate as much as possible. So eventually I said, “hey, here’s a shelf, you were right.” My best advice is, if it went poorly it doesn’t have to be the end of your story. It went poorly then it got better and because of covid they came back two more times and we did better. My husband and I didn’t want to be a place where my kids dreaded coming back home to.
What are some of the most common misconceptions you feel parents may have about raising teens or adolescents?
I think teenagers are delightful. They’re fascinating to talk to in that stage of life. They’re questioning and trying to figure out who they want to be in the world. I think teachers who teach that age recognize how charming and delightful it can be. But there is so much burden on us as parents to raise healthy, successful, driven, a host of things we define as success that it’s easy to get lost in the moment and projecting it on the teacher. A kid talks to you in a horribly mean way, we think we have raised a horrible child. Then you go to your kids conference at school and they tell you what a delight your child is and you’re wondering whether they have the right kid. Instead of that what we can try is to think about home as their safe haven, where their tired and ugliest self comes out. Hopefully there’s a different side of them that is presenting in a very different way and it’s not forever. Another thing I’d say is, when you hate them most, love them more. It’s hard to not respond to that hate, they’re being meant to me I’ll be mean back to you. I’m saying this as someone who has been that person. I’ve thought in my head, “Oh I’ll show you, there will be no dinner in the table.” Because you’ve hurt my feelings. The best parenting I’ve done where I see the response so differently and I’m not bragging because it isn’t that often, but it’s when I can hug them when I want to hit them. We don’t hit our children, the idea of wanting to get even and show them how much they’ve hurt your feelings, but rise above that and shower them with love, REALLY HARD.
What advice do you wish you had when you were raising your kids that you’d like to share with parents now?
Let go of perfection, of yourself as a parent and your teens. We were terribly flawed teenagers and we accepted ourselves then. We’re going to have to do the same thing for our kids. Our lives are apprenticeships, so if they knew everything that we knew at the age we’re at when we have teenagers, it wouldn’t make any sense. They have to live through the mistakes, they’re trying out new faces, some we don’t like at all. But there’s no other way to get to adulthood. We talk about mistakes all the time. Everybody who is a parent has a firstborn. Lots of experimentation is happening on that first child. If you have more than one child, then you’ll know you do things differently the second time around. You worry about different things the second time than the first time. One of my kids was parenting my youngest and I told him, “hey, there’s parents here,” he responded with “then parent him.” So for the older kids perspective, they saw many rules disappear and they felt like we were neglecting our responsibility. In fact, we had just prioritized some things I am very focused on with the older kids I realized weren’t as important as I thought they were. So my question was always, can we at Your Teen Media help people not have a first child experience? In some way, we think we can help you get the resources you want after it feels like it’s not going the way you want it to. We have different ways of responding. When my oldest was young my pediatrician felt putting them on time outs would work because it was what many others were doing. It did not work for my family, we have strong personalities, two strong parents and five strong kids. We’d put them in the timeout chair, and we’d forget why we even put her there in the first place. Having some sense of advice, you’re being told but knowing it can’t work for your family is just not the right solution. We do have intuition and If you’re wrong on it then try it. Nothing is accomplished in the heat of anger, I got better at walking away from it and coming back to the topic. Nothing comes good from anger; the timeout chair was purely a power struggle. Let things settle down and ask to have a conversation about what happened.
To follow and learn more about Susan, check out her website, https://yourteenmag.com/ or Facebook. You can also join her Facebook group all about raising teens, here to get helpful tips and recommendations on raising your teen! She can also be reached via email at [email protected]